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Democracy Demands Wisdom: 2010 Humanities Grants for Civic Education

In a divisive world the humanities has the opportunity to bring people together of all ages. Eight Rhode Island projects designed to enhance civic education were awarded a total of $80,000 from the 2010 Civics Education Grants. image004These grants are funded, in large part, by a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH). RICH is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the NEH.

“These civics grants, will be put to immediate use supporting teachers, schools, and community organizations who are working to enhance civic education in K-12,” says Mary-Kim Arnold, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

The NEH Chairman Jim Leach joined Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts in congratulating the recipients of the 2010 Civic Education Grants, awarded by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, on Monday, June 14 at the Chace Center, RISD Museum of Art

Congratulations to the winners. As a parent of two children in the Providence Public School system I am inspired by the chosen projects. Supporting programs that engage our youth, promote positive collaborations and celebrate life-learning is a benefit to us all.

2010 Civics Education Grant Awards — 8 projects totalling nearly $80,000 (Recipients pictured below).


Barrington High School, Tammy McMichael, Project Director, for: A Look at Rhode Island’s Judiciary System. Funds support an experiential component to an existing 2-week unit of study on the state and federal judiciary system in their upper class required American History Course.

Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Pamela Gray, Project Director, for African Americans in Rhode Island. Funds support development of online curriculum materials to complement and expand on the Haffenreffer’s Cultural CaraVan outreach program Sankofa: African Americans in Rhode Island. (The Cultural CaraVan program brings discussion to the classroom through direct interaction with objects and images from the museum.)

Global Rhode Island, Christopher Walsh, Project Director, for Teaching Complex International Issues and RI Capitol Forum on America’s Future. Funds support training teachers in multi-perspective approach to international issues at a 1-day workshop; dissemination of Choices curriculum materials into participating classrooms; public event at the State House for teachers and students; and evaluative workshop for teachers who elect to participate in the program.

Foster-Glocester Regional School System, Lisa Tvenstrup, Project Director, for Perspectives:  Using Multiple Lenses for Historical Understanding. Funds support training US History and World History teachers in six selected Choices curriculum units as well as the purchase of these units for students as part of an ongoing revision of pedagogy and content in this school’s Social Studies Program.

The Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery, Kristin Gallas, Project Director, sponsored by the San Francisco Film Society for Northern Complicity in Slavery and Racial Identity Development: How to Teach Our Complex History. Funds support workshops to educate middle and secondary teachers in Rhode Island’s role in slavery and the slave trade, to disseminate curriculum developed by the Rhode Island Historical Society on these topics, and to provide information on additional resources.

Center of Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island, Paul Bueno de Mesquita, for Gandhi-King Teacher Institute:  Integrating Nonviolence, Humanities & Civics Education. Funds support development of an institute for secondary teachers to learn about nonviolence, and how to use the Raise Your Voices program — with its stress on humanities reflection and arts, to engage students with this topic.

Vartan Gregorian Elementary School PTO, Catherine Carr Kelly & Wendy Warlick, Project Directors, for I WAS THERE Project (top picture). Funds support expansion of an existing multidimensional oral history project that connects students to the history of their local community.  The scope of the project includes professional development for teachers, creation of lessons and student experiences on the theme of “Factory Work and Jewelry,” and development of 3-day teachers institute on methods to disseminate model across the school system.

West Warwick Public Schools, Paul Bovenzi, Project Director, for Units of Study Workgroup. Funds support further work already begun by this school system to align systematically their district curriculum to the Civics GSEs at the elementary level and also to create two units of study for K-4 Social Studies that are both grounded in humanities content and perspectives as well as the GSEs. Specifically, funds allow ten K-4 Social Studies teachers to develop these units and purchase classroom materials.

About the NEH and RICH:

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places.

The mission of The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent, nonprofit 501-c-3 organization and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is to inspire and support curiosity and imagination in all Rhode Islanders through lifelong learning. The Council provides grants, supporting services, and outreach for public programs in the humanities.

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  • As a Special Education teacher involved with Vartan Gregorian School at Fox Point I Was There oral history project, thank you to RICH for funding what will certainly be an enRICHing learning experience for our students!